Monday, November 15, 2010

The World of Assouline

By Laura Medina

One of Assouline's founders, husband, Prosper Assouline & American Dior Book.

When Ms. Martine Assouline was pregnant with her child, it was not the only thing gestating.

Her pregnancy gave her the time to ponder and ask her husband, Prosper-who was one of the best art director she knows-what he thought of starting up a publishing company that makes books they can never find or books that reflect their passion for the arts, fashion, travel, and culture in the best way possible which were difficult to locate at that time.

This is how they gave birth to Assouline, the erudite publishing house that publishes volumes dedicated to the developments of Chanel and lifestyle folios such as "The Gypset," (a picture book on the Jet Set who live in remote, exotic places) and decor, "American Designers at Home." They even put a recipe book by American designers, "American Fashion Cookbook."
Prosper Assouline working the crowd at the South Coast Plaza boutique.
It was never an idea of business, but it was an idea of creativity.
"Too, to touch new themes, new ways to make them. Little by little, we started by that."
Assouline Publishing is all about pleasure-what make Martine and Prosper happy-as in they focus on publishing books on subjects that brings a smile on their faces, whether it be home decor or gastronomy or fashion. They want to take their favorite subjects and do it well.
They went from a little distributor to one of the world's best distributor came to them and said they were interested in Assouline. At this stage, the Assoulines can take risks on bigger projects with service. They also became international very quickly.
Soon, the big American publishers were buying their books and coming in.
This was the signal for the Assoulines to come over to America and take it in bites-gourmet bites.
The Assoulines partnered with Chef Ludo Lefebvre of West Hollywood's Bastide French Bistro and turned it into an intimate bistro-cum-bookstore on the hidden strip of Melrose Place.
Martine, " We met the chef, he's a lover of good wine and good books...We decided to get together over a shared pleasure of good books, food, and wine. A good combination."
What happened was their first West Coast outpost, a treasure trove of a bookstore nestled inside a French bistro.
"The is the first time we have it this way. It wasn't our idea but an of Lefebvre. But, I love it."
"This place is gorgeous. This place is spectacular because it has souls and charm. It is all about what we like. It is all about library. It is all about installation. It is all about pleasure. It was the right place."

The "American Dior" Book Launch party

As Assouline becomes more well-known, Martine and Prosper feel it is time for them to come to America to make their own creation with their own name.

It was also when the people behind South Coast Plaza, bereft of a bookstore, met the Assoulines at a dinner party and were pleasantly startled they carry the brands that the couple profiled in their books. It was a match made in heaven.

The opening party for the new incarnation of Assouline was hotly anticipated. Assouline Bookstore has grown into an art gallery and luxury goods boutique centered around books.

They felt very welcomed here since they are surrounded by the fashion houses they did books on, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Dior, and they press every book there was on Chanel.

They are a perfect addition to South Coast Plaza.

The accouterments, they sell, are there to support a personal library and they are limited edition replicas of artifacts from the Musee de Louvre, such as the sculptured bookends. Even the carpet and couches are for sale.

In the back, they have an art gallery of rare map prints.

This particular Assouline boutique is the only one that offers building a personal library for the home, whether it be a bookshelf or a whole one in a home. It is the literary version of interior design, centered around books.

It is the only Assouline store to sell gifts and rare sets of books nestled in their own book trunks, such as the American Dior line.

A rare limited set of books focusing on the relationship between America and Dior. Martine and Prosper only printed out ten of these books. Each book is a linen-covered gift box. The behind the front cover houses a gift wrapped in red with a white bow. The very first page holds a hand-printed silk scarf of the American Flag by Dior.

On the tonight of the "American Dior" party, three people already bought three of these books.

Assouline, whether it's a hidden library in a French bistro in West Hollywood or a full-service gift/book boutique to serve a bibliophile's dream library (it is obvious Martine and Prosper are book lovers), is a place where books are treasures.

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